Providing better mental health treatment to active duty troops and veterans has been a priority for the White House, and Dr. Jill Biden recently announced another program aimed toward that goal. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Joining Forces initiative have teamed up to allow social workers to earn certification to serve troops and their families, Military Times reports.
The collaboration will open up a new area of study to the nation's legions of social workers. Specifically, it will help them become familiar with military culture, making them better-suited to meet the needs of service members and their families. Additionally, it will touch on issues such as combat-related stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Our veterans and military families are among the most resilient men and women I have ever met, and I am always inspired by them," Biden said on Wednesday, according to the publication. "But they have shouldered a tremendous burden, and for those who need some additional support, we need to be ready to help."
Social workers are just the latest group of professionals to be educated on the unique needs of soldiers and their families. The agreement between NASW and Joining Forces is similar to one made by the organization with nursing and medical schools last year that was aimed at raising awareness of the specific needs of the military community.
Among those schools following the initiative is Elgin Community College near Chicago. The nursing program there has a renewed focus on teaching its students how to recognize the signs of many common conditions among veterans including traumatic brain injuries and depression.
"It's the right thing to do," Beverly Malone, CEO of the National League of Nursing, told the Chicago Tribune. "Soldiers are taking care of us in so many ways. We need to take care of them."
Having appropriately-trained medical and social professionals on hand to help veterans and their families may help remove some of the challenges in the transition back to civilian life. According to a recent survey from the American Psychiatric Society, about 38 percent of military members report feelings of anxiety while 40 percent experience feelings of depression. Additionally, about 60 percent of military spouses say they feel stressed about handling domestic issues.